Search gets more social with Google “+1”

March 31st, 2011 | by Raymond Lau

The Web is buzzing with Google’s newly announced addition to their search engine. Called “+1”, it works like Facebook’s “like” button, except that you use it on search results from Google search.

For example, when you try searching for “strawberries” on Google, a bunch of results come up. You feel that one of the results is the best and would like to let other people know about it. With +1, you can do so with just one click, and it’ll appear as one of your recommendations the next time somebody else searches for “strawberries”.

Google is calling this a “public stamp of approval”, since real people are giving feedback on search results, making them more relevant to other users.

One concern we thought of is the possibility of “+1 farms” popping up in the future to twist results to certain sites’ advantage. But Google states that +1 tries to make results as relevant to you as possible by only showing you the links “+1’d” by people who matter to you, such as people already in your Google contacts or chat.

But this lumping of everyone in my Gmail contacts into the category of “people who matter to me” smacks of what they did with Buzz back then. Moreover, Google adds that they “may still show you how many people across the Web have “+1’d” a certain link. This could potentially cause some unhappiness with those concerned with privacy.

Furthermore, when you +1 something, your name is immediately associated with that link in search, on ads, and across the Web”, and anyone can see that you’ve recommended it. Fortunately, you can easily remove a +1 from your Google profile page should you wish to do so.

You can even +1 advertisements, although that won’t count as a page click, meaning you won’t have to pay Google for every +1 you get. Google says that all ads on search results pages will eventually have the +1 button, and an API for webmasters to put up a +1 button on their sites will come in the following months.

+1 is essentially an extension of recent efforts by Google to “socialise” search. You might have noticed that Google recently rolled out a feature which let you know who in your Google Buzz or Twitter networks shared a link in your search results.

I’m glad to see Google taking their foray into the social aspect of the Web one step at a time, and enhancing their core product (search) at the same time. Launching a full-fledged social network at this time probably won’t win any hearts over from the king that is Facebook.

If you want to try +1 out now, hit up Google Experimental Labs and sign up for a preview! Or would you prefer to stick with Facebook “likes”? Let us know in the comments!

3 Comments

  1. Daniel says:

    I read that Google is introducing a new feature throughout their network that will allow you to give a big ‘ol thumbs up to sites or ads you find valuable. If you’re signed into your Google Account while searching, you can click the +1 button on either paid or organic listings that you would recommend.

    What i dont know is that can this improve or reduce a sites ranking in Google searches?

    Anyway, I’m experimenting on this using one of my forum page (nigerian forum
    ) by constantly giving it a big up on google and I will return to share my experience again.

  2. Chi-Loong says:

    Google vs Facebook. Fight.

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